How the Patriots beat Pittsburgh from Foxborough

Keagan Ryan Roar Pro

By Keagan Ryan, Keagan Ryan is a Roar Pro

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers are obsessed with the Patriots, largely because New England has had the wood over Pittsburgh in recent times, including the AFC Championship Games in 2002, 2005 and 2017.

    Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has found the going even tougher, fairing 2-7 against the Patriots since he assumed the role in 2007.

    Proof of this obsession with the Patriots came to light in November during an interview with Tony Dungy on NBC. Pittsburgh’s meeting with New England was still two weeks away, but Tomlin made no secret of the fact he was looking ahead to that game and beyond.

    “Man, I’m going to embrace the elephant in the room. It’s going to be fireworks,” he said.

    “[The game] is probably going to be part one, and that’s going to be a big game. But probably, if we’re both doing what we’re supposed to do, the second one [the AFC Championship game] is really going to be big. And what happens in the first is going to set up the second one, and it’s going to determine the location of the second one.”

    While the average punter would agree with Tomlin’s notion, it’s one thing for Joe Blow to summarise the AFC is a two-horse race between the Steelers and New England, it’s another for a professional head coach to disrespect the NFL and essentially give the middle finger to two divisional rivals in Cincinnati and Baltimore, whom Pittsburgh played in the ensuing weeks.

    History shows the Patriots won a controversial game against the Steelers 27-24, thanks to an overruled touchdown catch that would’ve handed Pittsburgh the game. Losing on a contentious call no doubt only fuelled the fire for Tomlin and his players.

    Fast-forward to the playoffs and the Steelers drew the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round, with the winner advancing to the AFC Championship game. Anticipating a rematch of last year’s game, some loose-lipped Steeler players followed their coach’s lead.

    There was this tweet from Le’Veon Bell‏:

    Then safety Mike Mitchell was quoted in Sports Illustrated saying, “We can play them in hell, we can play in Haiti, we can play them in New England… we’re going to win.”

    The golden rule of sport is never provide your opponent with motivation, and the Jaguars fed off this arrogance on the way to an upset win and a ticket to Foxborough to play the Patriots.

    In a way, New England beat Pittsburgh without even stepping on the field, because this franchise has completely infiltrated the minds of the Steelers.

    The desire to beat the Patriots proved a distraction, as Pittsburgh didn’t warrant Jacksonville the respect they deserved, and ultimately it cost them.

    New England psyched out Pittsburgh and Tom Brady didn’t even have to hike the ball.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • January 17th 2018 @ 4:02am
      John said | January 17th 2018 @ 4:02am | ! Report

      Interesting article. You could argue its much worse that that.

      The Steelers still had a chance to beat New England even after the overturned touchdown – but the pass was intercepted on the final Steelers play.

      The Jaguars only scored 10 against Buffalo – Buffalo – but managed 45 against the vaunted Steelers defense. They were even up 21-0 early. The final score may have been 45-42 but was it really that close?

      Should be a fascinating game in New England Sunday afternoon.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 7:34am
      BA Sports said | January 17th 2018 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      Mike Tomlin is a defensive coach and their defence was brutally over rated – like he is. To finish the season they gave up
      28 v Packers (Hundly)
      20 v Bengals (Dalton)
      38 v Ravens (Flacco)
      27 v Patriots (Brady)
      6 v Texans (Savage)
      24 v Browns (Kizer)
      45 v Jaguars (Bortles)

      There is one QB in that list anyone should be losing to and the Pats and Jags were the only teams in that run that made the playoffs. Tomlin is arrogant and over confident, and his teams often play like that.

      The person who is laughing loudest is James Harrison. Made the scape goat, but clearly wasn’t the problem.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 11:33am
      michael barton said | January 17th 2018 @ 11:33am | ! Report

      This article exhibits a typical, moralistic response to an upset result. Journos in particular too often look for a moral homily to explain events. X happened because of arrogance, Y occurred because of hubris, Z took place because of fear etc. Just what is the evidence that arrogance cost the Steelers against the Jags? Supposedly a handful of comments and predictions from the coach and some players. Did they actually PLAY arrogantly, carelessly? Or rather, did the Jags play ‘lights out’, with Bortles having his career best game?

      A survey of the history of the NFL would I bet show that many a game has gone the way that so called ‘arrogant’ pre-game comments predicted. And what do we say of those instances? That they won DESPITE their arrogance? It’s just as plausible to hold that they won BECAUSE of it! (Or would we prefer to call it ‘confidence’ when they win?)

      Remember, this is sport in the U.S that we’re dealing with, not Australia. American sports exudes confidence/arrogance; it’s part of their DNA, perhaps especially so in football. I’m not saying that pride never precedes a fall, just that one needs to be much more nuanced in one’s analysis before so glibly concluding this.

      • January 18th 2018 @ 4:00pm
        BA Sports said | January 18th 2018 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

        The two teams playing at their best – the Steelers win and it shouldn’t be close with the weapons they have and the experience they have on the sideline, not to mention the home ground advantage.

        So if the Jags won, then the Steelers didn’t play their best. Why? Well Bell and Brown both scored 2 TD’s, Rothesberger threw for over 450 yards and 5 TD’s, including a great backward pass. The Steelers had four receivers pick up more yardage than the most yards received by a Jag – and that Jag was the 3rd down back Yeldon!

        The Steelers were playing one of the most ineffective QB’s in the league with minimal help on the flanks and a rookie RB who was tiring and hadn’t had a run of over 29 yards since Rd 6. With their roster they should be winning. So when you have the comments which the author highlighted, plus several others in the days leading up to this match, it is very reasonable to draw a conclusion that they were not prepared. And on a two week lay off the only way you are unprepared is if you are thinking ahead or thinking about other things because youthink you have this game in the bag.

        • January 21st 2018 @ 1:58pm
          no one in particular said | January 21st 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

          Jags beat Pit twice this year, both times in Pittsburgh, by a combined 24 points. Maybe the Jags are just the better team

    • January 18th 2018 @ 7:53am
      bear54 said | January 18th 2018 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      The Steelers, under Tomlin, have a history of losing games they should win because they’re looking ahead. Tomlin also coached a pretty poor game, although I read Todd Haley has been given the boot as OC so maybe he was the problem?

      That being said the Jags took their opportunities and played tough. Hopefully that wasn’t their Super Bowl and they can pull off another upset against the Pats in New England.

    • January 20th 2018 @ 8:43am
      no one in particular said | January 20th 2018 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      In the first half Bell had 8 carries for 46 yards. Ben had 2 INT’s and many pass plays were from an empty backfield. Deep pass plays on 4th and 1 multiple times, while they have the second best record in the league with the QB sneak

      By not using Bell more often, especially on 1st Down left them in a hole. They had 32 1st Down plays and averaged 1 yard less then JAX on their 27 1st Downs. This left PIT with an average of 3rd and 4.3, while JAX had an average of 3rd and 3.

      Pathetic play calling cost PIT the game, and Haley was rightly fired.

      Defensive wasn’t much better. JAX called a rushing play on the PIT goal line. The very next play they lined up in the exact same formation and the DC had PIT in a pass heavy defensive formation. What sort of DC thinks JAX are going to let Bortles pass the ball from the 1 yard line in a 0-0 playoff game with Fournette in the backfield? Result – Fournette TD. Jags take a 7-0 lead

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